Virginia Allocates $246 million to Help Long-term Care Facilities After COVID-19 Pandemic

At a retirement community in Springfield, the last scheduled event that Lea (88) attended was a Valentine’s Day dance in February. Since then, there have been no more potluck dinners, card games, special outings, or other social activities scheduled at Lea’s complex. And even as Virginia enters phase 3, it’s unclear to her when things may change in senior communities.

As we are all aware, due to COVID-19, retirement communities similar to Lea’s and long-term care facilities in our area and across the country have shifted the way they do things. For the past four months, amenities such as fitness facilities, game rooms, libraries, dining rooms — and the social/active opportunities they provide — have been halted to protect residents from COVID-19. On top of that, no visitors have been allowed.

Even with all these protections, long-term care facilities in Virginia have had outbreaks of COVID-19.  In fact, according to The New York Times, “(a)t least 54,000 residents and workers have died from the coronavirus at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities for older adults in the United States, accounting for approximately 43% of all US deaths linked to the coronavirus.”

Although not all states report the number of nursing home deaths linked to COVID-19, The New York Times reports that in at least 24 states, a majority of COVID-19 deaths are linked to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities for older adults. While this statistic is shocking, it is not surprising given that the population involved is at the highest risk — people over 65 who are all dealing with serious underlying health conditions.

Governor Ralph Northam Takes Action to Help Virginia Long-Term Care Facilities Recover from COVID-19

To help Virginia long-term care facilities become safer for residents and staff, and reopen for visitors safely, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced new guidelines and testing requirements for reopening long-term care facilities. He also outlined how the Commonwealth will direct $246 million, primarily from federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding, to support long-term care facilities in their response to COVID-19, as follows:

  • Virginia will support both nursing homes and assisted living facilities in addressing staffing shortages, increasing infection control measures, and purchasing personal protective equipment (PPE), as well as complying with the new testing requirements.

Nursing homes will receive $226 million (administered through the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS))

  • The majority of funding will go to nursing facilities which receive Medicaid payments.
  • Medicaid reimbursement to nursing homes will increase by $27 per resident per day, to help support facilities for a 4-month period;
  • More than $56 million will be provided for periodic testing of nursing home residents and staff;
  • Cost of testing residents will be primarily paid by Medicare;
  • Funding can cover additional costs related to testing, and staffing, PPE, cleaning supplies;
  • Outbreak response will be $80.00 per patient per day (in addition to $27) for 90 days;

Assisted Living Facilities (ALFs) $20 million (administered through DMAS)

  • $4,000 per ALF per month for 4-month period;
  • Additional daily payment of $15.00 per auxiliary grant resident per day for 4-month period;
  • Funding can be used for testing, staff, PPE, cleaning supplies;
  • The $20 million in support that ALFs will receive will nearly double state funding for these facilities, in recognition that these facilities are also experiencing additional costs and have not had the federal support that nursing facilities have received.

Funding, in addition to the amounts described above, includes $152 million from the Provider Relief Fund that long-term care facilities have received for COVID-related expenses. While assisted living facilities have not benefited from this fund thus far, there is a growing recognition on Capitol Hill that these facilities should receive federal funding to offset their costs.

Names of Long-Term Care Facilities with Outbreaks Have Been Released

Governor Northam also announced that, given the changing nature of the pandemic in Virginia, he is directing the Virginia Department of Health to release the names of individual long-term care facilities (nursing home and assisted living facilities) that have experienced a COVID-19 outbreak.  Scroll down on this page to see the entire list of “Nursing Homes, Assisted Living, and Multi-Care Facilities Reporting Outbreaks of COVID-19″ in Virginia, by locality.

In response to his actions, Governor Northam said, “(t)he lockdowns of long-term care facilities to protect residents and staff from the spread of COVID-19 have been hard on residents and their families. These actions will help support long-term care facilities as they ease those restrictions, while keeping their residents safe and ensuring that the public gets accurate information on the spread of this virus in these facilities.”

State Guidance Release for Phased Reopening

Last month, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released “Nursing Home Reopening Recommendations for State and Local Officials.

CMS provided recommendations including:

  • Criteria for relaxing certain restrictions and mitigating the risk of resurgence;
  • Factors to inform decisions for relaxing nursing home restrictions through a phased approach;
  • Visitation and Service Considerations;
  • Restoration of Activities.

The Virginia Department of Health Offices of Epidemiology and Licensure and Certification, in conjunction with state leadership, created Virginia-specific guidance for phased and safe reopening plans based on the CMS plan. Click here for more details. Maryland and DC did the same, as you can see from Governor Larry Hogan’s message on the Maryland.gov website and from Mayor Muriel Bowser on the DC website.

“What’s happening in the community is very, very different from what is still occurring in nursing homes,” said April Payne, a vice president at the Virginia Health Care Association. “We’re not over dealing with the outbreak. We’re still in it.”

For helpful information on the reopening of nursing homes in Virginia and the entire DC area, please see this article in the June 27 Washington Post. To keep yourself up-to-date with what’s happening in Virginia regarding the reopening of long-term care facilities, bookmark the Virginia Department of Health website. Please also read my articles, Should Nursing Homes Reopen to Visitors? and Keeping Seniors Safe as Things Reopen for additional details.

Plan for Yourself and Your Loved Ones at this Time

As nursing homes and assisted living facilities are working to make things safer for residents, staff, and visitors, it is important to plan in advance for loved ones who may need their services now or in the future. If you have not done Long-Term Care Planning, Estate Planning, or Incapacity Planning (or had your planning documents reviewed in the past several years), or if you have a loved one who is nearing the need for long-term care or already receiving long-term care, please call us to make an appointment for a no-cost initial consultation.

Elder Care Attorney Fairfax: 703-691-1888
Elder Care Attorney Fredericksburg: 540-479-1435
Elder Care Attorney Rockville: 301-519-8041
Elder Care Attorney DC: 202-587-2797

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